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Making a new home’s outdoor spaces welcoming took vision, hard work, and a sense of fun

(page 2 of 3)

Kolacz (seated, with his partner, David Kroeger) at the five-hole miniature golf course on the roof of their building
Kolacz (seated, with his partner, David Kroeger) designed and built
a five-hole miniature golf course on the roof of their building.

Fortunately, execution is a strong suit for Kolacz, who heads Contrast Design Group, a design firm in Chicago. The men closed on the house in March 2007, and by the time they moved in that summer, renovation and landscaping were already well under way.

Crews re-tuckpointed the limestone block walls and added more stone at the top for structural strength and privacy; reinforced the roofs to handle the weight of the soon-to-come outdoor features; upgraded windows with higher quality, double-insulated thermal versions; and refurbished the six-foot-deep pool by adding a complementary waterfall and replacing the mosaic tile with a sparkle-infused concrete refinisher that won’t crack in Chicago’s frigid winters.


Outdoor kitchen island clad in cleft slate and topped with Black Galaxy granite.
The outdoor great room includes a kitchen island clad in cleft slate and topped with Black Galaxy granite.
A glass-and-steel partition system provides protection from wind.

Before Kolacz could build the garage-top outdoor great room, he also had to add plumbing and electrical systems for the appliances; sprinkler, irrigation, and drainage systems for the vegetation; and railings for safety’s sake. A productive collaboration with Kemora Landscape Designs, the project’s contractor, took care of all that and also led to a striking frosted-glass-and-steel partition system that provides protection from the wind (and echoes the garage’s mineral-glass-and-aluminum windows).

Kolacz’s father, a tool and die maker and farmer, helped design and build cedar-slat scrims to warm up the limestone walls in the new alfresco rooms and also with a waterfall in the front courtyard. Kolacz constructed the golf course himself, with help from the turf installer, packing five tricked-out holes into a trim 20-by-25-foot space and landscaping them with plants chosen to withstand strong sunlight.


A cedar-slat scrim and a waterfall in the ground-level front courtyard
A cedar-slat scrim and a waterfall gave the ground-level front courtyard a new lease on life.

He is halfway through finishing the interior of the home, but in the meantime the maxed-out grounds have added 2,000 square feet of living space and seen plenty of use over the past two summers.

“It’s been more successful than we ever imagined—especially the miniature golf course,” Kolacz says. “We started our own annual tournament that’s so popular we have a waiting list.”

To see the designer of this space talking to Bring It Home TV’s Rochelle Vayo Adkinson, click here.

NEXT: Buy Guide »

Photography: Andreas Larsson



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